The state home department believes that because Mumbai is an international destination, only discotheques in four- and five-star hotels can remain open till 3am, not regular bars.
Even though the Bombay high court had earlier observed that the state could not “discriminate” between ordinary hotels and bars and five-star hotels, the state was directed to furnish their policy, if any, to justify their action in this regard.
The state’s response has come following a petition filed by Shaheen Rafique Khan, owner of a restaurant and retro bar in Andheri, alleging that the police were disrupting their business by not allowing them to conduct orchestras till 3 am.
An affidavit filed on November 22 by Umeshchandra Sarangi, additional chief secretary, home, said that according to a government circular of October 10, 1997, four- and five-star hotels having discotheques were permitted to remain open till 3 am.
Claiming that the matter had been discussed with the home minister, the affidavit said, “Mumbai being an international city and air destination, people from various nations arrive in Mumbai at late hours…it has therefore been decided to continue with the earlier policy of 1997 to keep closer time till 3 am.”
Sarangi said a committee was appointed under his chairmanship to take uniform policy of timing for restaurants and bars. After consultation with various departments, the state decided that bars and hotels serving liquor and food can function till 1.30am in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. The affidavit cited a May 24, 2001, government circular to support their stand.
Petitioner’s advocate Mukesh Vashi will be filing a rejoinder citing fundamental rights when the case comes up for hearing on Monday.